Democratic watchman. (Bellefonte, Pa.) 1855-1940, December 25, 1896, Image 4

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    Soa [ET EET]
Demorraiic Wald
Bellefonte, Pa., Dec. 25, of
|Copyright, 1865, ly the Author.]
A dozen heads turned to lock as Bet-
ty went up the street to Lawyer West-
field's office. Though it was coming ci
to noon of a bright December day there
was still a biting touch in the air. The
eritical loungers hugged the sunny side
of the strecet—and even there the wind
made them shiver—though to one in
rapid motion the day was a delight.
Some of its frosty vitality scemed to
radiate from the girl.
Steps pretty high, considerin,’’ one
of those who watched her raid to his
gossip as the slim shape, lithe for all its
Yuddled shawl, passed out cf earshct.
The girl had looked neither to right nor
left. Her cheek wore habitually the fine
red it now showed, but the most casual
giance saw a hardening of the lines
about the mouth and below the eyes.
“Yes, considerin most of all that she’s
got ter walk back the seven miles
home,’ a third man said, coming up to
the twe. Fe had lurched down the street
in Betty’s wake—further, he was her |
elose neightor, John Burley, known to |
his intimates as Toad.
“Now mind whut you say, Toad,”
the first speaker admonished. ‘‘Miss
Betty she don’t b’ar you no mighty good
will, an solid as she is with her lawyers |
you better mind how yeu cut your notch-
es, else you might git yourself an the
rest 0’ us in er label suit.”’
“Aw, go ’long, you Dcc Green.
faw. “I ain’t like you.
knee high to er grasshopper that gal has
done sold Lightfoot an her cyart an |
steers too.’
““Wh-e-ce-w! That every hoof o’ stock |
thar is on the Walton place,’’ Doc said,
digging his hands decp in bis trousers
pockets. “‘It mast bo she’s goin ter quit
the ranch.”
“You hush,” some one whispered
violently, clutching at Doc’s coat and
nodding toward another who camo
swinging along the pavement. He was
tall, with broad shoulders and level
lookjng eyes that did not fall to the
faccs about, though he gave the group a
eomprehensive good morning. He had a
fine ear too. It had caught the import
of their talk, but ke made no pause for |
further speech.
““Ain’t ho in cr swivet this mornin?’
Doc Green asked sarcastically. Toad
nodded assent. The third man, Tobe
Pellew, said with a judicial half clos-
ing of eyelids: :
‘‘Shet up, you fellers. That’s young
Lawyer Westfield, an he’d have you ter
understand the Westfields ain’t got no
use fer common folks, except round
lection times, when they want our
votes. ”’
‘‘Bo shamed o’ yourselves, you all.
You know aswell as I can tell you thar
ain’t nobody o’ clearer grit ner less
stuck up than Ned Westfield. Look how
he fought an hung on fer pore Sam Wal-
ton, an knowin all the time he wus
bound ter have his trouble fer his
pains,’ Uncle Billy Trotter said severe-
The ripple of sarcastic laughter hush-
ed itself to asuddén quick shame. Toad |
shifted uneasily upon his feet and said |
apologetically behind his hand:
‘‘He did that. Pore Sam, ’tain’t a
year yit sence he went crway, an I'm
thinkin this’l] be er turrible Chris’mus
fer him. Whutever clse he done Sam
thought a heap o’ his childern an give
*em Chris’mus money.’
“Yes, ho did. Pere old Sam! They
had cr dead cpen an shet case on him,
but nobody can make me believe he wus
sober cnough ter know whut he wus do-
in when he teok that critter,’” Doc re-
turned in Tead’s key, studying the pave-
ment a: he poke,
“‘He never teok it,”? Uncle Billy said |
with emphasis. ‘‘Whicky don’t make
men mean. I tell you it jest lets loose
the natchul mean in er fellow. Now,
while Sam wa’nt no saint, neither cut |
out, an called fer no missionary, he nev-
er had er mean way erbout him, ner
nare drap o’ low down thief’s blood in |
him. I told hislawyer so, an wanted ter |
git on the jury, but the state’s attorney |
| tex than knowing you us you ure, with |
wouldn't have it. I’m glad pw he
wouldn’t. That thar mutton headed
judge frum up country hilt ’em down
go ter the law an the fac's they couldn't
do nothin but fetch in er verdict o' |
guilty. Bat in spito o’ everything I
conldiig sicep o’ nights of I'd had any
Hand in makin of them Walton chil: |
dren a heap worse’n crphane,”?
“But sce here, Uncle Billy,”” Tobe
Pellew protested, ‘now jest look at
them fac’s. Three witnesses that didn't
wanter do it had tor sw’ar they seen
Sam er his ghost onhitch that critter
frum the rack, mow:t an ride oif; then
he wus found with the beast an his
We |
all know you’d be skeercd out o’ sehen |
years’ growth ef she jest looked hard at |
wou,’’ Toad returned with a great guf- |
I know whut |
I'm talkin erbout, an shore’s you're |
CWI’ That wa’'nt wuth nigh as mucn
right whar he’d been scen ter leave it
in the mornin. I know he told er lame
tale erbout er strange man overtakin
| him, banterin him fer erswap, an when
| they had traded gallopin back the way
ho had come, but though Ned West-
fiell raked the county with er fine tooth
coinb he couldn’t find nare ‘nother soul
{ that had saw the other man.”
“Xtill Sam Walton ain't no horse
thief,’ Uncle Billy suid stoutly. Pel-
lew twiddled his fingers and said tenta-
tively: :
| ““That ain't neither here ner thar.
Say, you all, it’s jest two weeks tell
Chris’mus. Somethin oughter be done. *’
All the rest gathered about him and
fell into eager consultation. None was
more eager than Burley. As he marked
the looks of surprise in the other faces
he said, a curious grayness settling
about his mouth: :
“‘Lemme carry it ter em. Maybe it'll
fetch me luck. I ain’t told you before,
but I've sold out, stock, lock an barrel,
an am goin ter Texas about old Chris’-
mus day. ”’
“H-m-m-m! Who'd you sell ter?’’ Un-
cle Billy asked a trifle sharply. ‘It
cain’t, though, be nobody else but that
| rip tearin Johnny Gates. You an him
| have been as thick as thieves ever gence
| he come inter his pile o’ money last
| year.”’
¥ * * %
Betty walked the vacant office with
quick, impatient steps. A leaping fire
{ crackled in the grate. Uncle Edom, the
| black manservant, had drawn the easi-
est chair beside it, but nothing could
induce her to rest in it. She had peach
bloszomy cheeks now. Uncle Edom had
told her, “De ole big boss, ma’am, he
| *
ke’ll be down in dest er little while.’
She wished of all things to escape an
| encounter with Ned. Sho could never
| make him understand—her father and
his had been social equals, class and
| college mates—hence the old man would
| bave known intuitively how impossible
I it was that her father’s daughter should
leave his defense to be ranked among
anybody’s charity cases. His son—Bet-
| ty’s thought went no farther—the rac-
ing blcod made connected thought im-
possible. She stood mutinous, trem-
| bling, wishing herself 100 miles away,
| yet in nowise repenting the thing that
| had brought her. Therc was a back door,
of which she knew nothing. Ned came
through it and took her unawares. He
walked straight up in front of her, say-
ing with a little frown:
* “Betty, why will you do such very
foolish things?"
_““I—I do not quite understand you, ”’
| Betty faltered.
““Who bought Lightfoot?’ he demand-
ed, his voice still hard.
“Who eays I have sold her?’ Betty
asked with spirit.
“I know. It was beeauso of what
Johnny Gates said when you refused
him again,” Ned wont on relentlessly.
Betty flang off her shawl as though
her voice was an edged flute note as cho
the relation of lawycr and client to au-
thorize questions such as you have seen
"it to ask?’
“I am 1aore than your lawyer,’’ Ned
said stoutly. ‘‘Betty, this is no fit time
or place, but you know I love you, you
know I mean to marry you as soon as I
come into my grandmother’s legacy and
am independent of my father. I told
{ you that over and over in the summer.
Then you at least listened; now you try
{to shut me away from your concerns.
{ You have stripped ycurielf of work
i stock. You live on a form alone with
' the children. They must have fire and
food and clothes. You have perhaps a
| right to sacrifice yourself and me, Bet-
"ty, but 1.ct the children. Do have a
thought for them.’
“I think of nothing else day and
night,”’ Betty said. ‘‘But—but can’t
| you sce? Oh, do please take the money
| for your father. It isnot much, only
$200, but when it is paid people cannot
say’ —
‘‘Let them say what they like, ’’ West-
' field broke in. ‘‘Betty, Betty, marry
me at once. You shall not starve, dear.
‘‘Pleaso, please never gay such things |
| again,’ Betty entreated. ‘‘Think of
your father, of how good he was to mine,
his heart to know his only son had mar-
| ried a convict’s daughter’’—
“Stop!” Ned said, speaking low and
ty, but if you love me anything is bet-
nothing between you and the crush of
things. ”’
“I do not think so,”’ Betty cried,
dropping the roll of bills on the desk
before him and hurrying away. She
dared not trust herself to listen fur-
ther. If only she could rush home—
. away from overything. But that was
impossible. She had still to deliver
' Lightfoot. Trab had her now—Trab,
who was next herself, though five years
younger, and just fairly in roundabouts.
They had stopped that morning upon
the scarscommen where it made a sort
of bay up among back gardens snd eta-
| done goned fer er week, but Marse Ned |
its weight stifled her. Her eyes sparkled, |
‘‘Mr. Westticld, is there anything in !
and his pride, and how it would break |
“‘I have been over all that, Bet- |
Lie yaras., AS ISetty came up to him she
noted with a choke in the throat the
| tear stains zll over his thin, wistfulTh
‘“You—you staid a long time, Bet-
ty,’’ he said, pressing his face close to
the mare's glossy neck. Lightfoot was
thoroughksed and Betty’s own proper-
ty, a gift from one of her father’s boca
companions, who found the foal, then
lese than a week old, a serious hin-
drance to his pleasure. He did not
dream the newcomer could bring up his
gift, He did not know, as Betty did,
how wise and kind was Sook, the bell
cow. After a sniff or two and one faint
protesting moo Sook let the colt suck
beside her own new calf quite as though
they wero twins.
Next year Lightfcet came out in her
glossy new coat as fine and lusty a year-
ling as stepped on four hoofs. Tho chil-
dren frolicked with her, talked to her
and shared their daintice quite as
though she had been human, which
they more than half believed she was.
And what a famous 38-year-old she made
—bridle wise, full gaited and handsome
as a picture. Betty began to ride her
then. Today it came back to her how
her fathor had looked at her frayed,
| worn saddle and housings ard said:
‘“Ah, Betty, you could show off your
mare if only yon had a father worth
even hanging.’’
Her dear father! He had been always
the pattern of kindness so long as he
kept at home. A pattern of industry
seized him; then he rode away, drank
and gambled or indorsed other men’s
worthless paper, which later his own
| household was pinched to pay.
I “I ‘most thought you had forgot us,
Betty,’’ Trab said unsteadily. ‘If—if
you had staid a little longer, I meant
| to take Lightfoot back home again.
' Have you taken the money for her, Bet-
ty? If you haven’t’’— A sob finished
what he could not say.
‘“Yes, I took it and spent it,’ Betty
said huskily. ‘‘Mr. Lane had tho mcney
all ready. I told him you would bring
her’’ —nodding toward the mare—*‘and
he said next week would do.”’
“Let’s take her back. I'll bring her
then. Honest I will. Oh, Betty, how
can we part with her?’ Trab wailed,
burying his face in his hands. Betty
had taken the halter rein. She let it
drop and flung both arms about Light-
| foot’s neck.
¢¢‘J—don't—-quite—know, Trab,’’ she
| said, swallowing hard. ‘‘But we must
i not take her back. That would be like
| dying twice over. We will comfort our-
selves thinking how much she has
| gained-—such a nice warm stable and
no more hard work.’
“But nobody will love her like we
| do, an she don’t mind work for us.
| Why, last summer, when she plowed so
| hard, she would frisk about when I turn- |
| ed her loose an look at me, as if she
said, ‘See, I ain’t tired,’’’ Trab said,
wiping his eyes.
needed her work, the darlin. I am goin
work an buy her back.”
“He will kcep Be brave now.
| Run along with her, then meet me at
his store. I know a boy about your size
who deserves come new boots,'’ Betty
| said, trying to smile.
again wiped his eyes.
would-be hard if—it we could only tako
Lighttoat back home for good. *’
oR * * * #*
Seven o'clock that night found Betty |
: safe at home in the big double log !.
house that her grandfather had built. |
| It belonged to her mother’s children, |
| else would long ago have been swallow-
| ker best friends had begged her to leave
iit, scatter the children about and give
herself the distraction of a new neigh-
borhood, but she had steadfustiy refused.
All through her father’s trial she nad
hoped against hope that his innocence
would be miraculously proved. Ee had
said to her, ‘Betty, I have done nearly
all that was wrong to my poor children,
‘but I am no thief,” and she had be- |
lieved him. All through the long day
she had sat, I "ug forward, her eyes
fast on the . the strange, stern
judge of wiic... even the sheriff was
| but at the last there was a break in
| even his cold voice as he raid, ‘In con-
| sideration of all the circumstances of
| the case, I sentence you to imprisonment
| for three years, the shortest time allow-
| ed by the statute u.uder which you are
| convicted.’
Then, when those about looked to see
her faint, Betty had pressed up to where
she could touch her father and whisper
in his ear:
“I believe in you just the same.
Threc years is not so long, and you shall
tind us all here when you come back.’
So you may guess what answer she
i made to her advisers. If thoy shook
| their heads, they let her take her own
way. Tonight the way did not seem so
hopelessly hard for all the stress and
strain of the day.
‘‘Wo must believe, after this, in spe-
cial providences,’’ she said to Patty.
“To think how we got home. Mr. Pel-
| lew’s wagon brought all our bundles.
| and nothing would do Uncle Billy Trot-
ter but to fetch us both to our gate in-
stead of dropping us at the big road,
two miles away. And then my moiey
held out so. I have bought all we real-
ly need—shoces, frocks, sugar, salt, nails,
| spelling books, a new hood for Marian,
{a red tin cup for Tess—and have two
| whole dollars left for Christmas money,
| and §2 will buy such a heap of things.’
| win pappy come home Christmas?’’
| Tese asked, nestling her head against
{ “You little idiot! You know he
| won't,’”’ Marian broke out. ‘‘I wish I
was where he ig,”’ she sobbed. ‘‘Tom-
my Adkin said today at school he
| wouldn’t even dare to show his face here
again; ho was a jailbird.”’
“PH kill Tommy Adkin,”
shouted, his eves, flashing.
Ce. |
and thrift, too, until the restless fit |
‘‘She knew how we |
to ask Mr. Lane to keep her until I can |
Trab sighed and |
“So you've got the money Buck an |
Brandy brought to spend,’’ he said. “I |
thought a heap of them, but nothin |
cd by those security debts her father |
| was always making. Betty was infinite- |
| ly glad of this assured shelter, though |
He had not seemed to see her, |
It just happened to be coming our way, |
Marion |
fiuzhed, tTHougn sie Was sobbing hara.
“‘kic won't say it again,” she said,
priting up her hand to hide a long
scratch on her check.
“linus! Somebody’s comin.
how Ring barks,”
Pete said, walking
to a froas window. e curtains there
were drawn, but at the back they hung
so far apart it was casy to see from the
outside the group in front of the fire.
“ *Twas just some wagon passin. Old
Ring is a big story teller,” Patty said,
looking wp from her new linsey frock.
‘He don’t tell stories. ile smells
somebody sure, an he knows ‘em,
cause he barks in place o’ growlin,”’
Pete returned. Tess sat up and pushed
the yellow curls out of her sleepy eyes,
then broke into a passion cof weeping.
“Pappy! Pappy! I want to seo my
pappy, oh, so bad.” :
Patty and Marian both caught her in
their arms, sobbing in unison. The
boys, too, were crying, but Betty had
dry eyes. She had been through so much
that day she was like one frozen.
“Hush, dears,” she said clearly. “It
would kill father to see you now. Be
bra.. for him. It is all we can do.”’
Trab held up a hand for silence.
“There must be somebody about,’’ he
said after 2 minute. “I heard walkin
like somebody was tryin to step easy.’
‘‘Ho! It’s jest that old blue dawg o’
Toad Burley’s. Yonder he goes, streak-
in it down the front lot,’’ Pete called
| from the window. Outside there was
brilliant moonshine. The tree shadows
lay in fairy lace upon the frozen carth.
‘““Ah, ha! He came after eggs and
didn’t get a one,”’ Patty said trium-
phantly. “‘I do hate a suck cgg dawg.
Wonder what doesmake Toad keep that
ugly thing?”
‘‘He is not quite as ugly as bis mas-
ter,”’ Betty said, laughing. ‘I dare say
both of them admire cach other.’’ Then
she shook her purss tilk. the silver in it
jingled and said, trying to speak gayly:
“Now for a Christmas council. Re-
member, everybody has one vote and
majorities rule.’
As the last word left hLcr lips some-
thing came clattering down the ' big
wide throated squat chimney and rolled
to her feet. It was a round tin box,
wire fastened and bearing upon oae side
| a bit of paper with the words, ‘Not
dangerous,’’ laboriously printed upon it.
“Well, this beats all,”” cverybody
said in a breath. Then Trab cried out,
“I knew there svas somcbody,’’ and
| Marian began to plead, ‘‘Oh, Betty, do
open that.”’
“I know how it got thero. Somebody
climbed up the big tree and threw it
down from the limb that hangs over,’
Pete said as Trab undid the wire that
| bound the lid. He shcok the box over
i Betty’s lap, and five half eagles fell
| from it. They were wrapped in a paper
| upon which some one had written:
| “For the children’s Christmas. Make
| it a happy one.”
For the first timo that day Betty
dropped her head and cried.
x « %* * * 3°
While she gobted a man was rushing
| away outside as though pursurd by fu-
| ries. He had been hanging about ten
| minutes. Ho bad seen and heard what
went on within, As he came up to his
| tethered horse he was shaking all over,
but not with the cold.
“Lord, O Lord!” he muttered, fum-
| bling with the saddle girths. ‘How
| that little gal cried! { cain’t stand it,
yit I must. Thar ain't no other way,
i not unless 1"'—
| He broke off there and galloped furi-
ously away. Mor perhaps aieile he held
| his course, then turned square about
(and went toward the county town at
| the same breakneck pace.
at = * *
The day before Christmas shone warm
and moist, swith a blue sky so soft and
springlike the nipped chrysanthemums
| under the odge of the south piazza perk-
[ed themselves up with a semblance of
blossoming anew. Human nature seem-
ed in like kindly mood. All day a
stream of wagons had rolled up to leave
logs cut in fire lengths at the Walton
back gate. Then Uncle Billy Trotter
and Aunt Nan had cone, their big bug-
i gy loaded down. Sunch a big, splendid
bronze gobbler as peered from between
Uncle Billy’s knees, such a thick frost-
{ed pound cake as Mrs. Trotter held in
| her lap, such old ham and pickles, the
| buggy box disgorged, not to mention a
| pig for Pete and a pair of pullets for
| Marian!
‘‘Hearod you had started in tho chick-
| en business,’”” Uncle Billy said, pinch-
ing the child’s car. ‘‘So ma an me
thought maybe you’d like some o’ our
red game breed. You're sorter game
i chicken yourself, eh, Marian?”
| “Yes, I fight when I have to,’’ Mar-
ian returned. ‘An I am goin to raise
eggs an chickens next year. We all said
we'd put the money that fell down the
chimney in somethin we could work
with an try to buy back Lightfoot.’
“You'll git her,” Uncie Billy said,
chuckling hard, while Aunt Nan said
aside to Betty:
“If it'scfitten weather, Betty, I'm
comin in the carryall noxt preachin day
to take you all to church.”
| Before Betty could answer a black
| lad rode up with a big basket before
| him. Dropping his hat, he said cheerily:
| *‘Mica Betty. Miss Sairoy Pellew sav
* *
hefe™s Tr yiece er fraish beef an some
minch eat she done made petickler
good, ‘case Chris’mus don’ comes but
1.80 er your?
‘I don’t kpow how to thank every-
tody,”’ Betty said to Mrs. Trotter, with
wat agelids, when tke boy had gone
“Don’t try, honey,” that good wom-
bud mouth. Then she drove away, snug
and smiling at her husband's clbow,
Jeaving Betty to receive yet other ma-
terial tokens of the day of peace and
i geod will. They came from every hand
—tut sacks of meal and flour, apples,
potatoes, preserves, homemade. wine,
flake crusted pies and sugary crisp
sweet cakes.
Some way the superabundancs wound-
neighborhood custom. She was, in fact,
a trifie morbid. She would have re-
any might but for thinking that the
giving had tho spur of her supposed ne-
cessity. :
‘“‘Thero is nobedy else to send any-
thing. We can rest a little while,”
Crab said after supper, but cven as he
spoke there came a thundering knock
at the front door. Nobody was there
when it opened, but they heard wheels
rolling away.
“Bah! Blind gooses! Don’t you sce
the box? There! At your feet,” Marian
cried, darting past Trab and Peta to
snatch a square wooden something from
the flcor in front of her brothers. When
she had wrenched it open, there lay,
amid wrappings of pink and silver pa-
“Tommy Adkin wishes his friends
Trab and Pete and Patty and Marian
and Tess a very happy Christmas.’’
“And I am left out entirely, though
heart when ha wore dresscs,’’ Betty
said, laughing to save herself from ery-
ing. Marian kicked the bex contemp-
tuously, saying:
‘We must be gettin popular when
while to be good to us. ”’
“Marian, Marian, ’’ Betty said. “What
a speech, and Christinas too! I am
Tommy, and remember, dears,
mas means above everything peace on
carth and good will to men.”
‘If Christmas makes folks good, why
don’t they let pappy come home?’ Tes
asked with round, wet eyes. Putty was
staring hard in the fire. Without stir-
ring she said over her shoulder: ‘‘I be-
lieve ho will come, and Lightfoat tco.
There is ov road in the fire—a long one
—aznd a man end a horse coming along
* “w
*® a w
Betty elept drcamiessiy that night,
but all the next day she was the prey of
nameless terrors. Her mind went back
constantly to the beginning of the trou-
ble. It seemed to her it had truly be-
gun when Johnny Gates, the richest,
idlest, most dissolute youngster in the
county, came courting her and was sent
about his business. Yet he it was who
had brought her word of her father’s ar-
rest and in the samo breath had beg-
ged her to marry him. When she gave
him a frantic refusal, he looked at her,
his face growing hard and white, hig
eyes burning, to say: ‘‘\Whatever your
door. You might save him, and you let
fancy Ned Westfield loves you.
marry you. His father would sooner see
him dead.’
scorn, but how his dart rankled. It was
the smart of it, with o later taunt that
the Westfields fought cases for either
love or money, that had impelled her to
sell Lightioot and pay a counsel feo.
Yet only three weeks buck Johnny had
come. humbly entreating her to let him
talkie her burdens and promising vague-
ly great things for her father.
Ono little minute Betty faltered; then
her heart held her in the right way.
She shook her head and left bim, and
when he ran after bade him never name
marriage to ber again. He went away,
crying and cursing. She had not seen
the focr.
strolled out to the orchard. Her moth-
er’s prave was therc—beside it she
might dream a little of last year—and
I the creamy, heavy hearted roses some
one had sent her upon Christmas eve.
| She had laid them upon the green
| mound, though knowing well their
source. Ned's first gift, they were sa-
cred and belonged by right to her holi-
est place. Snow fell and covered them.
They were beautiful for weeks. Now
as she looked at the flowerless swell a
great sob rose in her throat.
and prayed wordlessly with her face up-
on the earth.
The children were in the back yard
full of joy in what their Christmas mon-
The hoys had yearling
ey had bought.
steers, Patty some Tess a
and Marian a fleck of hens with red,
red combs and fine glossy neck feathers.
an returred, bending to kiss Tess’ rose. |
ed Betty, albeit she knew it was but |
some slight exaggeration of the friendly |
ceived as graciously and gracefully as |
per, all manner of Christmas cakes and |
Christmas toys, fireworks galore, and |
the very bottom a scrawly slip, |
Tommy uscd to claim me for his sweet- |
Mr. Storekeeper Adkin thinks it worth j !
afraid I must make you write and thank |
Christ. |
father suffers, Betty, it will lie at your |
him be disgraced, and all because you |
Maybe |
he does, but I can tell yor he will not |
Lad turned from him in silent
him since and was devoutly grateful for |
As it drew on toward sunset Betty
She knelt |
young sow with four teeny weeny pigs |
= —
| watching them teeter and coquette in.
| their rocsiing tree. It was a cherry, big’
rand branchy, and already half of them:
| huddled in twos and threes affectionate-!
ly on the boughs. :
! S103
‘“That’s & Christmas tree right,’ Mar-
ian said decisively. Tees stooped to
scratch the head of her least pig as she
answerea reflectively, “I like Sarak
Lizatcth ef she an Lier babies can’t go
on a treec.”’
“Oh, say, wouldn't Logan an Bright
lock fine, hangin up in a cedar bush?’
Pete said in gasps, lauzhing as he had
not done for weeks. Marian nodded.
“An put on Patty’s bees, too, an then
send for Tommy Adlin to distribute the
presents. My, but I'd like to see him.
| Both his eyes would be shut a week.”’
Betty, coming back to them, opened
her lips for gentle reprocf, but before
i she spoke it they caught her in tumul-
| tuous arms.
“Come in to the fire, sister. I’most
thought you wus lost,”’ Tess declared,
nesiling close to her.
“Yes, do come. I put an egg to roast
for you,”’ Marian said, catching the
other hand fast, while Trab said discon-
tentedly: I wich it would get good an
dark. My firecrackers are just achin to
go ofl.’’
Patty was already indcors. They
, found her again staring at the fire. Mar-
ian pulled her braided hair, Trad flip-
ped a chestnut against her cheek; still
she did not rouse from her rant contem-
plation until Betty bent and said softly,
“What is it, Patty, dear?’
“It’s all crumbled down, ’’ Patty said
with a little impatient sigh. ‘‘But the
| same road was in the firo—the same
| man an horse—an it worries mo that I
| can’t find out if they are comin here.”
| “We'll know when they get here,”
| Trab bogan. A hail outside cut him
short. Ring, the watchdog, gave a
| long, joyous howl that sent all pelimell
to the door. Through the dusk they
| could make out moving figures at the
| gate. It swung in, some one darted
through and caught Betty and Tess in
the clasp of trembling arms, while the
other children shouted wildly: ‘‘Pappy}
Pappy! Pappy has come home!”
As he loosed Bctty Ned Westfield
caught her hand, He meant only to give
her friendly greeting, bat Uncle Billy
i Trotter behind bim sung out, “Ef ye
don’t kiss her right here an now, Ned,
I'll never voie per lectioneer fer you—
never in the world,”
So Ned kissed her handsomely in the
| face of them all. His father at his back
said with a beaming smile:
“So you thought, Betty, I did not
. want yoa for a daughter.”
Tess, high in her father’s arms, broke
in gravely, ‘ ‘Betty is our daughter, an
| nobody else can’t have her, but if you
i come in we have got a heap of Christ-
| mas, an veu may have some fer bringin
parry home.”’
“They may bave it ali fer bringin
Lightfoot,”” rab said as he clung fast
to the neck of his recovered treasure.
Betty turned to Ned. : :
“Tell me, am I awake?’ she asked.
“1 have dreamed so often, Tell me, too,
when you began to work miracles.”
| “Iv ain’t nothin short o' a wicrakle—
anybody gittin that pore, lyin Toad
Burley ter speak the truth,” Uncle Bil-
ly said, taking Tess from her father’s
clasp. As Mr. Walton met Betty’s in-
quiring gaze he smiled and said: .
‘‘Yeu will have to let Ned tell you,
dear. All I know is that this morning
a pardon was read to me, I wastold my
' friends waited outside, and there I
found Ned, Tobe Pellew and Uncle Bil-
ly, and all bent on bringing me home
with a hurrah.”
Then Ned told briefly yet clearly how
Buriey hed plotted with Johnny Gates
and a reckless stranger whom they later
spirited away against the good name of
Betty's father; how Burley had person-
"ated Mr. Walton in carrying off the oth-
| er horse, and afterward put the beast
| the stranger had got in the trade back
| where it had been first stabled by its
owner. Then poor Toad, as the agent
of the Christmas conspirators, had seen
and heard what had sent him straight
to Ned Westfield and confession. ‘‘Of
course I let him go free,”” Ned wound
(up. ‘‘He is safe in Texzs now, but his
name is not Burley, and we will wish
“him luck. All tho rest was ridiculously
easy. Fcertunately I know the governor
well enough to tell bim outright when
I am in « harey for anything.’
“But Ned ain’t told you yit, Betty,
how ho took un chased off like er streak
0’ lightnin ter tho Eelenoy, found that
t'other feller an got his affydavit,”’ Un-
cle Billy said with a fresh and more
vigorcus chuckle. Betty gave him a
heavenly smile, then put her arms again
about her father’s neck, saying:
“So long as we have him home free
and sound and safe it does not matter in
| the least how it came about.”
“Yes, it does,’’ Marian said, clinch-
ling her fists hard. Then through a rain
of tears: ‘“‘I—I cain’t hate anybody,
not even Johnny Gates, like I was to.
I am so glad to see pappy again, the
hate all slips away.”
‘“‘But love and peace abide forever,’’
Ned whispered in Betty's ear, and Trab
said slowly as they all went inside:
“There never was in the world such
I another happy Christmas. ”’